And pretty healthy, apparently. Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I started an überpost a bit back, but couldn’t get it to gel so I stepped away. I should, at the very minimum, check in here from time to time to look at comments and clear the spam cache if nothing else.
A couple of days ago over on Facebook I posted a link to an essay by Sarah Hoyt entitled “We’re Not Going Back.” I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, as they say. Pertinent excerpt:
If you look at yourself and your opinions, in the last six years, you’ll see how much you’ve changed.
The biggest points in my change are:
A complete and utter distrust of the scientific establishment. I used to think that other than stupid cr*p like global warming, you could trust most of it. I was one of those people who would look up the official research and “the way things are done.” Not anymore. I’ve learned the limits of irreproducibility and also that most non-applied (and some applied like medicine) science is just “Shut up, they explained.”
A complete and utter distrust of our three letter agencies. Used to be that I looked at Heinlein saying that we had the worst intelligence services in the universe and go “well, I guess he’d seen some bad stuff.” Now? Now I look at it and go “You forgot self-serving, corrupt and partisan.”
A complete and utter distrust in centralized government. You know, it’s funny because I thought I already had that distrust. Turns out I was wrong. I still thought they had some sort of competence and ability to do things that benefited the country. Now? Now I think they’re as stupid and incompetent as they’re evil. Government should be as small and localized as possible. No. Smaller and more localized than that. No. Than that too.
A commenter at the FB post left this:
I read it. Every paragraph. Hoyt thesis that science is completely unreliable, that three letter agencies are our mortal enemy, and that centralized government is completely and utterly untrustworthy is total nonsense. It is short-sighted, selfish, and just plain dangerous.
People who think like Hoyt have very little understanding of the problems that we face as a nation or what the nation faces with the rest of the world.
No need to read that, because I’m kinda gonna Fisk it.
So my interlocutor rejects Sarah’s position as “short-sighted, selfish, and just plain dangerous.” He is also a Champion of Democracy, or considers himself one based on his other posts and comments.
I don’t think so. Oh, I believe he thinks he is, but only because he hasn’t really considered his beliefs to their logical end, as I’ll explain using the op-ed he selected. Let us Fisk:
In the coming decades, the world faces megathreats that would imperil not just our global economy and financial assets, but also put at risk peace and prosperity.
Agreed. But as Agent K said in the original Men in Black, “There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet….” Perhaps the dangers aren’t so interstellar, but we’ve been a couple of minutes from Nuclear Midnight my entire life, and most of the things we’ve been told to fear have been conquered or proven to be false. Even when they weren’t, humans overcame. It’s what we do. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
In our partisan political world, where we kick the can down the road – we are biased towards short-term planning and leave thinking about the future to others – these threats are something different. Left to grow, they will make life worse for people across the world. It is essential for the public good that these threats are not ignored by our leaders, but are acknowledged, taken seriously and countered – fast.
This is the “If we just had the right people in charge” appeal to authority. But we very seldom do.
Some of these megathreats are economic: the spectre of inflation and recession at the same time; the mother-of-all debt crises as private and public debt ratios hit historic highs; an ageing population that will crash our pension and healthcare systems, to name just three. In the years before the 2008 financial crisis, I correctly predicted that our virulent cycles of boom and bust would bring total economic meltdown. I fear we face that prospect once again.
And he’s hardly alone. Take, for example, this excerpt from George F. Will’s 2010 speach “Learned Feudalism” –
Calvin Coolidge, the last president with whom I fully agreed, once said that when you see a problem coming down the road at you, relax. Nine times out of ten it will go into the ditch before it gets to you. He was wrong about the one we now face. We are facing the most predictable financial crisis, most predictable social and political crisis of our time. And all the political class can do is practice what I call “the politics of assuming a ladder.” That’s an old famous story of two people walking down the road, one’s an economist the other’s a normal American, and they fall into a pit with very steep sides. The normal American at the bottom says “Good lord we can’t get out!” The economists said, “Not to worry, we’ll just assume a ladder.”
This seems to me what is the only approach they have to the Ponzi nature of our own welfare state. I think what it is time for us to understand, that the model that we share in a somewhat attenuated form so far with Europe simply cannot work. It is that on the one hand we should tax the rich, AKA the investing and job creating class, yet count on spending the revenues of investment and job creation. No one has explained to the political class that it is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.
You might want to read that one too while you’re at it. Our leaders aren’t ignoring the problem, they just aren’t taking any measures to correct it. They’ve got theirs. You’re on your own. As Teddy Kennedy was quoted as saying:
I’m glad I’m not going to be around when you guys are my age. … Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.
Back to Roubini:
Here is what economic crisis would look like this time. A global recession that will be severe – not short and shallow – as high debt ratios and rising interest rates cause a sharp increase in debt servicing problems. Defaults for zombie households, firms, financial institutions, governments and countries as central banks are forced to increase interest rates – not cut them as we have seen in recent decades – to fight inflation. Advanced economies such as the UK start to be priced like emerging markets after disastrous economic and fiscal policies, such as those from the short-lived Truss government. The bubbles of private equity, property, venture capital and cryptocurrencies will burst now that the era of cheap money is over.
Again, no disagreement here. It’s not like it hasn’t been predicted literally for decades. Ross Perot ran on a platform of stopping this in 1992 – and lost dramatically. More on this later, too. But the fact of the matter is, that which cannot go on, won’t.
But beyond these, our turbulent times present us with broader geopolitical megathreats to our way of being. The global backlash against liberal democracy and the rise of radical, authoritarian parties of the extreme right and left is in part driven by the sharp rise in income and wealth inequality. Workers feel left behind while elites gain wealth and power. This will worsen as jobs are lost, not because of trade and migration, but because AI, robotics and automation will lead to permanent technological unemployment. Left unchecked, this will surely see yet more dangerous, aggressive, populist regimes rise to power.
Now this paragraph I find interesting. He notes that there is a “global backlash against liberal democracy.” A backlash by whom? “Radical authoritarian parties of the extreme right and left”. Yeah, not so much. A whole bunch of us in the vast middle are pretty pissed off. From Angelo Codevilla’s “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It” (also published in 2010):
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties, heads of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review and the Wall Street Journal on the right to The Nation on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some ten trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America’s economy. In part because they deem the American people incapable of understanding such matters, in part because they do not understand them themselves, they failed to think these matters through for themselves. When dealing with the American people, as when dealing with children and animals, they promised rewards if their policies were implemented, and threatened doom if they were not. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one. A January 2009 CNN poll found that 80 percent opposed the proposed measures.
When this majority discovered that virtually no one with a national voice or in a position of power in either party would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted on by people who had not read them, they realized that America’s rulers had become a self-contained, self-referential class. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around the government as the Ruling Class.
It’s not “radical Authoritarians” on the Left and Right, it’s Joe and Jane Average who have discovered that the government doesn’t serve them, it services them in the animal husbandry meaning. That “sharp rise in income and wealth inequality” is primarily due to government regulations picking winners and losers. And the votes of Joe and Jane Average obviously don’t mean sh!t for the most part.
Also Codevilla (and I’m very fond of this quote):
The polls quantify what any observant person can see: the division between the Ruling Class and the Country Class has overwhelmed that between Republicans and Democrats. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “Tea Party,” these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That’s because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans say the same about the Republican officeholders. Hence our rulers, both Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate—most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the Ruling Class’ prime legitimate representatives, and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the Ruling Class. In short, the Ruling Class has a party: the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans—a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all Independents—lack a vehicle in electoral politics.
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled.
(Bold my emphasis.) Will it be filled by Authoritarians of the Left and Right? Roubini warns against “populist regimes.” Have you ever read the dictionary definition of “Populism”?
A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite.
Populism is what you get when your vote doesn’t mean anything anymore, when the “privileged elite” have manipulated the system until the populace has had enough. Could we devolve into an Authoritarian government? Could be, but it will be accomplished DEMOCRATICALLY.
You can vote your way into slavery, but you have to shoot your way out.
Back to Roubini, again:
More urgently, the conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of a renewed cold war between the west and powers such as China, Russia or North Korea. The rising tensions between the US and China over Taiwan have peaked in recent months and could escalate further. The constant risk of conflict between Iran and Israel could yet destabilise us all.
Cold war? I’m worried about a hot one. If you owe another country billions of dollars, what better way to wipe that off the books than to go to war with them? The same Left that screamed that Trump was going to get us into nuclear war with North Korea, now pushes for nuclear war with Russia. Biden announces in a 60 Minutes interview that the U.S. will defend Taiwan.
And then there is the most pressing, most real megathreat of all: the global climate crisis, which will cause untold, irreversible economic and human disasters if it continues to be ignored.
A complete and utter distrust of the scientific establishment. I used to think that other than stupid cr*p like global warming, you could trust most of it.
For the Left, for the Ruling Class, Anthropogenic Global Warm… Climate Cha… Catastrophe is Gospel. It’s effectively a religion since Christianity has been eliminated. Yet a whole bunch of us aren’t worshipping at the altar, and though our reasons for that are pooh-poohed by the Warmists, they are valid questions. This is not the essay to delve into those arguments. I’ll just go with Glenn Reynolds’ observation:
When they start acting like it’s a crisis, I’ll start thinking it’s a crisis.
As an aside, this year’s United Nations Climate conference in Egypt is being attended by 400 private jets. Don’t talk to me about my carbon footprint.
Roubini once again:
It’s already at our door, of course. Natural disasters this year alone have resulted in millions of climate refugees. Droughts and heatwaves have swept across India and Pakistan, sub-Saharan Africa and the western United States. They are just a sign of things to come, yet the powerful are doing little to address it – most talk, and indeed most investment, is nothing more than green-washing, and green-wishing. It is not the urgent, tangible action we need.
Again: When they start acting like its a crisis… Get back to me when Martha’s Vineyard is submerged. Or they start building offshore wind farms there.
I’m going to skip the last three paragraph’s of Roubini’s piece except for this:
Here is one possible path for our future world: these threats materialise and feed on each other in a destructive loop, leading to economic chaos, instability, meltdowns and conflict worse than we already know. But there is another, less dystopian, future: one where domestic and international politicians cooperate on sound policies and solutions to ensure the continuation – however bumpy – of the half a century of peace and prosperity.
And there that is: World Government. He doesn’t use the words, but it’s strongly implied.
And for my interlocutor, Democracy will get us there! If only the Radical Authoritarians will let it! We will put the RIGHT PEOPLE IN CHARGE! We just have to get the gun hugging, bible-thumping, cousin-humping, knuckle-dragging, beer-swilling rednecks with IQ’s that match their number of teeth to vote like we tell them to!
Democracy would be wonderful if it weren’t for the voters.
Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.
The book – “Towards the European Constitution” warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.
“Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart”, she writes.
Mrs Antonsen, a member of the Danish Parliament for the ruling Liberal party, argues that representative democracy is just as democratic as referenda.
“Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately”.
Ms. Antonsen believes that “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong. Every. Single. Time.”
And she is not alone. Time Magazine published a story after the 2020 election celebrating how the elites “fortified” and “saved” the election, preventing Donald Trump being elected again in another populist uprising.
How was this accomplished? “…a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort….” – “Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.”
They manipulated the law and propagandized the public, and while we cannot prove it in court, cranked up the fraud machine with corporate money behind it. Dr. Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist, at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, has documented that Google algorithms shape public thought on political questions. He says “They can do it in any direction,” but they always do it towards the Left.
Our democracy exists so that you think that you could choose But our algorithms make you do what we want you to do
I had as a header to this blog back at Blogger this quote from Sultan Knish:
The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been “liberated” to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it’s because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it’s because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem.
“Democracy! Democracy! Democracy!” they cry. The election of The Wrong People will bring about the End Of Democracy!
No, the people decrying the Death of Democracy don’t want democracy. They want that Authoritarian government, but it won’t be radical because they will be in charge, and they are the Tolerant, Caring, and Inclusive people who know best. Now just climb into your capsule apartment, eat your cricket paste and take public transport to your assigned job tomorrow.
I’ve said it before, starting in about the 1960’s the Left became more and more convinced that the Right wasn’t merely wrong, mislead, ignorant. No, the Right was EVIL.
You don’t debate with Evil. You don’t negotiate with Evil. You don’t compromise with Evil. You placate Evil until you have the power to obliterate it. Anything and everything in the service of that path is, by definition, justified.
Seen at FB today:
In a Democracy, the majority rules. If the majority decided they wanted your bike, they could take it.
In a Republic, your bike is your property and you do not owe it to anyone. It cannot be taken against your will, by law.
America is a Constitutional Republic.
Therefore, the Constitution is the law under which we are supposed to be protected.
In a Republic, the individual is protected FROM the majority, by Constitutional law.
A Constitutional Republic is what we were given.
The story goes that when Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention at its conclusion he was asked, “Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?” He replied, “A Republic, if we can keep it.”
We failed. And we’re not going to get a Democracy. Algorithm by algorithm, ZuckBuck, BezosDollar, the DNC, the Corporate Media (but I repeat myself) – the entire (to paraphrase Hillary Clinton) Vast Leftwing Conspiracy as exposed in that Time article – is going to make sure that one of two things happens:
We get a Rightwing populist uprising, or
We get a Radical Leftwing Authoritarian government
Either way, it sure as hell won’t be a Democracy OR a Republic.
They don’t want Democracy, they want to be in exclusive control – for our own good. Because when people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong. Every. Single. Time.
Our government at every level is humming along pretty much as envisioned a quarter millennium ago by its architects. Read the Constitution and our government is easily recognizable as what our forefathers had in mind. It serves as a conduit for everything from hope to rancor and passes good laws and bad, renders court decisions good and bad, and, for better or worse, tackles all the executive chores. It checks. It balances. It functions pretty much as intended.
No, the issue is not government. It is the administrative state, sometimes referred to as the fourth branch of government but really a boulder increasingly crushing the liberal republican form of government we were guaranteed.
The administrative state is the backdoor around government with which progressives—in both parties—have hoped to execute their goal of converting us from the most robust engine of freedom and prosperity for all ever on the planet to just another social democratic lumpen state.
Why would they attempt such a take-down? Because the political class and the intelligentsia cannot see straight in a scheme where everyone is their own boss. National greatness in their eyes can only be achieved when their voice drowns out ours and they are calling the shots and we are snapping to to their agenda for us.
It started in the administration of Grover Cleveland with the 1887 creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to long-simmering claims of abuse by western agrarians, especially Grangers, against the railroads. It was the first instance of using a state agency to monitor and arbitrate commercial interests rather than let markets settle the issues out. It died during the administration of Bill Clinton.
The scheme blew up with Woodrow Wilson. He launched one agency after another. To give you an idea of his overreach, here are some agencies shut down after his term.
The War Industries Board provided the very model for fascist corporatism, and Franklin Roosevelt in particular was singled out by Mussolini for his work in directing ship building in his position as assistant secretary of the Navy for having proven his own concept of Dirigisme (a fact Roosevelt was proud to mention to Italian-American audiences when later campaigning for president).
The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in response to just such excesses of Wilson to prevent recurrences. His many successors have moved much less rashly, much more stealthily. (The ACLU was long ago taken over by the Democrats and is no longer our watchdog for these kinds of abuses).
But it was Franklin Roosevelt who greatly expanded the administrative state, and he did so by exploiting the Great Depression in true Democratic “never let a good crisis go to waste” style. He played the “we’re from the government and we’re here to help you” card over and over to create one new agency after another.
Lyndon Johnson, biting the bullet to pass John Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 following his assassination knowing the alienation it would cause among the Conservative Democrats of the South, shored up the damage by swiftly passing his Great Society initiative, which created a score of major programs along with agencies to head them, as well as his War on Poverty program that created the Office of Economic Opportunity to administer the individual programs. The major thrust of this greatly expansive legislation was to allow giveaways to minorities of more than a billion dollars a year [= ~$2.5B now] to insure being able to replace lost white Conservative Democrat votes with those of minority recipients of the largesse.
Many agencies have been given their own tax power without referral to Congress (the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, for example, is entirely funded by taxes it levies on publicly-traded companies)
Many agencies have their own courts with self-selected ALJs (Administrative Law Judges) who are not not subject to performance reviews or any other oversight and who decide cases based on “a preponderance of the evidence” (if he’s 50.1% in agreement with the agency’s case, you lose) and without a jury. It’s a kangaroo court.
Many agencies have their own police forces, often at SWAT level, to be used at their own discretion and, unlike how police forces are supposed to be constituted in a republican government, not subject to civilian control and review.
Many agencies engage in no small part in rent-seeking, regulatory capture and other forms of what properly should be labeled corruption and do so precisely to increase the power of our elected politicians. (There’s a reason a life-long public servant like Harry Reid was able recently to leave office worth a reputed $80 million.)
It overturns the guarantee that our laws apply to government officials the same as all of us. For example, when the EPA dumped more than a million tons of toxic waste into the Animas River in Colorado in 2015, they were not subject to the fines or even criminal assessments a private firm would face; they faced no repercussions. It was quite obvious also our enforcement agencies did not think the law applies to Hillary Clinton.
The great majority of agency heads are not picked by the president or other elected officials but by other administrators. There is near-zero accountability to us citizens, who, in a republican government, hold sovereignty, or are supposed to.
These egregious violations don’t even get to the grave issues. First, we now have 30 million people out of a work force of 150 million paid out of tax revenues—not only workers for government at all levels but teachers, professors, some health care workers and researchers and so on.* Those numbers yield a ratio of one public worker for every four private taxpaying workers (yes, public workers feel the tax bite, but because they are paid from tax revenue, no new money enters the system).
Thanks to an executive order signed in 1962 by John Kennedy permitting public-sector unions (something even FDR said could never be allowed for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons), compensation for public workers has grown from 80 percent of an average private worker’s to just over 160 percent of taxpaying workers now. Indeed, the public is the only sector to have growth of compensation net of inflation over the last half century. Two private sectors, finance and electronics, have held their own; the rest have lost ground.
With total taxes over the last half century having stayed right at 40 percent of income, do the math and it turns out we need the total taxes of all four-out-of-five private workers just to pay the labor component of the public sector. That is precisely our debt spiral as all other costs of government have to be paid for by borrowing.
The anti-constitutional administrative state then is something that we don’t want but we are being required to pay for, one, out of our taxes, two, since that doesn’t cover it, by suffering a reduced standard of living not shared at all by public workers, and, three, by requiring our children and their children and so on to continue paying for it. The progressive elite do not care if they crater the economy; the automatic door will have slam shut, and they’ll be in total charge.
How could that possibly be? It is because our political class demands a large nomenklatura that is both loyal and compliant. Compliant to whom? Well, 97, 98 and 99 percent of political donations by public-sector unions go to Democrats.
“It therefore is necessary to consider the possibility that administrative law was an instrument of a class that took a dim view of popularly elected legislatures and a high view of its own rationality and specialized knowledge. This class drew upon popular political power, but primarily to establish another sort of power, which would be exercised by members of its own class, in a manner that reflected the alleged authority that came with their specialized knowledge. Although it did not thereby become the only ruling class, it at least made itself the rulemaking class.”
—Philip Hamburger, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?
The second grave issue is even worse.
How do you capture a herd of wild boar? You start setting out feed in a place where they congregate. Once they are happily eating, you build one side of a fence. This scares them, but they soon return for the feed. You build a second side and later a third. They are nervous again but, with no consequences the first time, they are soon back. Then you build an automatically triggered gate. WHAM! Back the truck up and bacon!
We are being treated to the same thing. The goal is for the US to become a State. We in the US have no more sense of what a State is than wild pigs understand automatic gates. The State is the very condition our Founding Fathers strove to make certain we would never descend into.
The first fence went up in the progressive era with progressive public education and the Flexner Report, which brought health care partially under government control and made the American Medical Association not only the first major lobbying group but a quasi-administrative agency (bringing education under political control allows for indoctrination and health care allows for populace control. It spread the meme that government cares and is the proper provider of all things good [this and following asides are based on The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World and to The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought]).
The second fence was control of free enterprise and the ability of citizens to operate in their own economic self-interest. This was accomplished mostly by the 16th Amendment permitting the income tax but also by implementation of raft of majoritarian-rule democratic methods that allowed the progressive majority to violate the rights of minorities. Minimum wage laws, Keynesian economics and similar controls on economic activity allowed the public sector substantial control over the private and civil sectors (the powers to tax and substantially control economic outcomes allows the public sector the ability to rule).
The third fence was building out the administrative state, media monopolies and the use of political correctness (a state monopolizes rule-making and messaging in order to create a common political culture supportive of the ruling regime and with subversive elements easily identified and dealt with).
It is the gate, with its moving parts, that has been proving tricky for our would-be rulers. The top priority of a state is a monopoly on violence. Where citizens own firearms, it is tricky to take away their rights and impose a state. A giveaway that we were close to an attempt to close the gate on us came during the Obama administration with his weaponization of several agencies against the public interest and build-out of the deep state, his distribution of military-grade vehicles and weapons to local police, his repeal of the long-standing posse comitatus rule limiting government ability to impose military policing domestically, his purge of a considerable number of generals and admirals, his building of detention centers, his killing of Americans and, of course, the incessant drumbeat of the Democrats on behalf of gun control.
That’s a lot of dots pointing to being eager to flip the switch and lock us in. One suspects they have been using every opportunity that appeared to justify such measures if not creating Reichstag fires of their own making.
And here sit we talking about amicable agreement over government. Government is going to the Post Office. It is seeing the occasional military man in uniform. It is getting a ticket and paying a fine. We read about a few of its actions in our usual sources. It is unintrusive, unremarkable. Even at its most rambunctious, it affects us little. Government is a feather. The State… manacles.
Unfortunately, many of our political class seem to want to affect us in a major way, seriously to our detriment. Oddly, their fellow officeholders are not screaming bloody murder on our behalf as they should be at such threats to our liberty. They get to DC and get told they play the game or sit on the sideline. Time to get serious ourselves about stopping the threat. Time to start investigating the investigators and pruning a lot of people out of government. Time to quit being cordial with progressive foot soldiers and all their pleas for the social democratic state they feel so virtuous about.
Time to be on guard and not leave it all to Trump. No telling what comes after him. And if we leave most of the statist apparatus in place over the next couple of years, shame on us. We’ll deserve to end up on the griddle.
* Public sector numbers typically do not include military personal, whose figures are provided by the Department of Defense rather than the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I admit that political polarization may bring it all to an end, we’re going to have a hung election and a civil war,” Bill Gates recently said in the keynote conversation at this year’s Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.
Biden, in front of Independence Hall accused 74 million American citizens of being “semi-fascists” and called for unity.
FBI whistleblowers are coming out and saying that the Bureau is falsifying “extremism” charges against ordinary Americans. (We know they have no compunction about lying to FISA courts or to get into safety deposit boxes, protecting Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton.)
The government is trying to get banks and credit card companies to stop providing services to licensed gun dealers. And, of course, they’re trying to ban “assault weapons” again.
I’ve got a couple of videos I’d like you to watch. One from about 1996 with Thomas Sowell, and one very recently with Victor Davis Hanson.
“We know the name of the philosopher of capitalism: Adam Smith. We know the name of the philosopher of Marxism: Karl Marx. But who’s the philosopher of fascism?
“Yes—exactly. You don’t know.
“Don’t feel bad. Almost no one knows. This is not because he doesn’t exist, but because historians, most of whom are on the political left, had to erase him from history in order to avoid confronting fascism’s actual beliefs. So, let me introduce him to you. His name is Giovanni Gentile.
“Born in 1875, he was one of the world’s most influential philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. Gentile believed that there were two “diametrically opposed” types of democracy. One is liberal democracy, such as that of the United States, which Gentile dismisses as individualistic—too centered on liberty and personal rights—and therefore selfish. The other, the one Gentile recommends, is “true democracy,” in which individuals willingly subordinate themselves to the state.
“Like his philosophical mentor, Karl Marx, Gentile wanted to create a community that resembles the family, a community where we are “all in this together.” It’s easy to see the attraction of this idea. Indeed, it remains a common rhetorical theme of the left.
“For example, at the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family where, through the government, people all take care of each other.
“Nothing’s changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention was, “The government is the only thing we all belong to.” They might as well have been quoting Gentile.
“Now, remember, Gentile was a man of the left. He was a committed socialist. For Gentile, fascism is a form of socialism—indeed, its most workable form. While the socialism of Marx mobilizes people on the basis of class, fascism mobilizes people by appealing to their national identity as well as their class. Fascists are socialists with a national identity. German Fascists in the 1930s were called Nazis—basically a contraction of the term “national socialist.”
“For Gentile, all private action should be oriented to serve society; there is no distinction between the private interest and the public interest. Correctly understood, the two are identical. And who is the administrative arm of the society? It’s none other than the state.
“Consequently, to submit to society is to submit to the state—not just in economic matters, but in all matters. Since everything is political, the state gets to tell everyone how to think and what to do.
“It was another Italian, Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943, who turned Gentile’s words into action. In his Dottrina del Fascismo, one of the doctrinal statements of early fascism, Mussolini wrote, “All is in the state and nothing human exists or has value outside the state.” He was merely paraphrasing Gentile.
“The Italian philosopher is now lost in obscurity, but his philosophy could not be more relevant because it closely parallels that of the modern left. Gentile’s work speaks directly to progressives who champion the centralized state.
“Here in America, the left has vastly expanded state control over the private sector, from healthcare to banking; from education to energy. This state-directed capitalism is precisely what German and Italian fascists implemented in the 1930s.
Leftists can’t acknowledge their man, Gentile, because that would undermine their attempt to bind conservatism to fascism.
“Conservatism wants small government so that individual liberty can flourish. The left, like Gentile, wants the opposite: to place the resources of the individual and industry in the service of a centralized state. To acknowledge Gentile is to acknowledge that fascism bears a deep kinship to the ideology of today’s left. So, they will keep Gentile where they’ve got him: dead, buried, and forgotten.
“But we should remember, or the ghost of fascism will continue to haunt us.”
Two related excerpts from Orson Scott Card’s Duplex. The main character is a sophomore in high school and these are his observations regarding his education:
They all thought they were “Getting an Education.” It was like they were all being taught one set of dance moves, a single piece of choreography. If they worked hard and really got it down, would they be dancers? Absolutely not. Knowing one dance doesn’t mean you know how to dance. All these high school students, including him, weren’t becoming “educated.” They were being trained. For what? to perform tasks that only had meaning when they were performed at school. We are learning the dance of public secondary education. Unless we become high school teachers, God forbid, we will never have to perform that dance again or even think about it.
And here’s the second quote, just a bit later in the narrative:
(School) is just a way of keeping adolescents out of the labor pool precisely when minds and muscles are at their most creative and flexible, so that kids don’t get into the workforce until they’re more nearly untrainable and unadaptible.
It was pointed out to me recently that I don’t post much here anymore. That’s true. I’ve said a lot of stuff over the last nineteen+ years, generally more than once.
A lot more than once.
But it has been my style to excerpt bits and pieces from other people’s work and give them credit in my überposts. (That’s called “research.” Without credit that’s called “plagiarism.”) There are also those times that I link to something and say “RTWT.” But more rarely I will copy an entire piece to the blog to archive it because it’s that good, and I don’t want it to disappear down the bit-bucket.
There’s a gentleman over at Quora who tags himself “The most Down-voted Top Writer.” He writes GREAT pieces, written from decades of experience and study. I want to share a couple with you. Once again, not my words:
Why isn’t American leadership focusing fully on Americans?
Unfortunately, they are!
I’ve learned over the decades that when the political class starts waxing on their grand dreams for society, it pays to pay attention.
What’s on the radar?
A bill swiftly passed Congress to hire 87,000 more IRS auditors. It seems the first order of business for these new hires is military-grade weapons training! And the rationale is that a landscape business somewhere might not have properly explained how it financed its fleet of vehicles, not the deductions for private jets from our billionaires.
There’s a plan that in the near future, most of us, those on the lower scale of things, will be eating cricket protein rather than beef protein.
Since Biden took office, we have in excess of five-million new residents in this country, just random people who crossed our southern border and are now being supported and groomed to vote a certain way.
Bill Gates, a high-tech billionaire, is buying up low-tech farmland like there’s no tomorrow.
Klaus Schwab, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, Prince Charles and dozens of other billionaires are enthusing about their plans for us. Seems, not being particularly useful like the exalted ones, we are to be kept under control and milked for what labor we might be good for. We remain docile, or “no deal.”
Our political class is not even hiding its kleptocratic ways anymore. How did Liz Cheney make $34 million during her short stay in Congress? Virtually all of them in both parties are living ludicrously large off their positions of trust!
At the same time, they are brazenly not hiding the fact that we hoi polloi are being treated to inflation, higher taxes, rampant government spending and other growth-reducing tactics, executive decisions and legislative actions that hamper our productivity, supply lines and other critical infrastructure—we now have the worst political class EVAH!
Not only has our standard of living been trending down since the election of Obama (the Trump years mercifully apart), our generations now coming of age, Z and A, will become the first American generations ever to enter adult life with less opportunity and a massive multi-generational debt!
I could add several more bullet points, but that’s plenty to reveal the mess we’re in. But that’s just the political mess. On the intellectual plane, we’re also in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
From the Scientific Revolution through the Enlightenment, we greatly expanded our reasoning tools, our understanding of the world, our prosperity and our freedom. And, in much of the world the sense was that we are all in it together.
Unfortunately, what science revealed was that we are not the center of the universe, we are not divinely created and destined to spend eternity on an exalted plane. In fact, we are not even a unique creation, just a talented species of mammal
Then we got the Counter-Enlightenment, which, instead of simply disabusing us of our vanity and superstitions, started tearing it all up.
Romanticism replaced the increasing sterility of rationalism with the heroic as a poor-born Corsican conquered the jaded aristocracies of Europe. The premium now would be on the heroic, the original, the power of human will.
Karl Marx would gain a huge following with a claim (proved false in his lifetime) of “something for nothing,” and in the process create a worldview featuring class strife and a return to top-down statism but non-aristocratic this time.
Sigmund Freud would portray our one noble discovery—human reason—as lying precariously atop a seething id of perverse sexual desire, anger and other base emotions.
Marx had not talent to get his scheme going, and so it fell prey to the likes of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who used Marx’s social democracy to prop up the Hohenzollern dynasty, or V. I. Lenin who forced communism on Russia and soon began filling the gulags, or Adolph Hitler, who followed other fascist thinkers (including, at the forefront, American president Woodrow Wilson) into updating Marx’s communism into an anti-Marxist totalitarian regime of murderous dimensions.
World War II, with many tens of millions killed, became the war of fascism squaring off against communism and social democracy (even the US was social democratic by that time). With fascism crushed, the Cold War pitted communism against social democracy… only, with the death of Franklin Roosevelt just before the war’s end, Americans began massively to rethink in terms of it having been our original Enlightenment values of prosperity, freedom and equality that had won the war rather than our Rooseveltian redistribution schemes.
After generations of rot and carnage, even as the rationalist industrial revolution kept steadily producing prosperity, life in the US blossomed again. We restored the racial equality of our credo. We restored much of citizen government. Unfortunately, we also restored our progressive movement for a third try at replacing our egalitarian constitutional republican form of government with Bismarckian social democracy.
As we look around now, the elites poised to seal our fate include some who were, long ago, actual Nazis, who are actual Communists, the types of people who filled the gulags and kept the shower chambers pumping out the Zyklon B.
The last thing in the world that I want is for these people to be making plans for me and mine. My plan is not to go gentle unto the night they have planned for us. – Charles Tips
That’s a very succinct evaluation of the current situation, and a very polite “I aim to misbehave.”
There is no growing wealth gap, generally speaking, in the United States. We had the same gap in 1776 and will have the same gap in 2276 (if not us, whoever our successor is). Switzerland has the same gap as do China and Malawi, Trinidad and Tobago. Even Yap has that gap.
All of this was shown six generations ago by an Italian economist stunned to find out as he plowed through mountains of data on income, on wealth, on land ownership and so on, that they graphed out the same in every single instance studied!!! Something bizarrely unexpected was going on.
Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One explains the mystery:
In 1906, economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered what became the “Pareto Principle” or the 80-20 rule, when he noticed that 20% of the people owned 80% of the land in Italy—a phenomenon that he found just as natural as the fact that 20% of the peapods in his garden produced 80% of the peas. [Note: Actually, Pareto studied many different polities and over different time frames and was astonished to see them all come out with the same result.] This extraordinarily stark pattern, when a small few radically outstrip all rivals, surrounds us everywhere in the natural and social world. The most destructive earthquakes are many times more powerful than all smaller earthquakes combined. The biggest cities dwarf all mere towns put together. And monopoly businesses capture more value than millions of undifferentiated competitors. Whatever Einstein did or didn’t say, the power law—so named because exponential equations describe severely unequal distributions—is the law of the universe. It defines our surroundings so completely that we usually don’t even see it.
Pay attention to what I am about to reveal. It is the conundrum of life.
Inputs are Gaussian. They fit a bell curve:
Pick whatever attribute you want—looks, IQ, stick-to-itiveness, drive, number of friends—and it can be mapped on a curve like the one above.
Let’s say you pick the twenty traits that best correlate with getting wealthy, and create a new bell curve reflecting scores on all attributes. Then you perform a longitudinal study of who gets rich and who doesn’t. Outcomes of radically random processes do not fit to bell curves; they follow power laws, in the case of wealth, a Pareto distribution.
Something like one hundred different power laws have been identified in physics, biology, economics and other circumstances where the underlying relationships tend to be complex and stochastic (read: highly random). The highest-ranked person on your curve steps off a curb and gets hit by a bus. The lowest-ranked wins the lottery… stochastic.
This is the conundrum of life. Between what you have to work with and what you achieve falls a very large and random shadow. In the snapshot of life, it is always stark, but when you run the movie for a generation, you are no longer comparing workers just getting their start with those quite older and at their earning peak… much of the difference simply goes away.
But, interestingly, power laws produce quite uniform results. Power laws are of the form Y = MX^B
Where Y is a function (call it the result) which yields from a constant M times a variable X to some exponential value B.
B = 1 produces the linear scaling law and a straight line on the resulting graph. (To double a recipe, use twice as much of each ingredient. M=1, X=2, B=1)
B < 1 produces a non-linear result and diminishing returns. (If M is your training base and =1 and X is the volume of new training you put in and B = 0.5, then put in a 4 mile training run and you gain the ability to run 2 miles at a fast rate. Put in 16 miles and you gain the ability to run 4 miles at a fast rate.)
B > 1 produces non-linear results with increasing gain. Kinetic energy = 1/2mv^2, a second-order power law. Some power conversions are third-order and some heat radiations are fourth-order.
And B can be a variable in some power laws, such as compounding interest.
In a Pareto distribution, B is conventionally referred to as alpha and α = log₄5 ≈ 1.16. Alpha is variable, with 1.16 producing the common 80/20 division. It does vary within limits but not in a way amenable to policy control. In any case, it always tends back to 1.16. And if you are including negative numbers (wealth/debt for instance), a slightly different equation is used [see link].
Here is what happens if you give an equal distribution of money to a large number of people. In not very many transactions, it goes Gaussian (bell curve) and then stabilizes in a Pareto distribution. In other words, it is futile to try to equalize wealth, income, what have you, as long as people are free to transact it, which is pretty much the whole point of money. Take one minute to see how this works:
It doesn’t matter whether you are talking a free economy or socialist, older or modern, if money is being transacted, that is going to be the result.
However, it says nothing about who gets the money and how. Did you know, for instance, that our longtime lowest performing economic sector of almost twenty sectors has, over the last three generations, become our highest performing sector for income? Naturally, our lowest performing sector was the one that generates no revenues, namely, public service.
In the private sector (that is, all the others) non-revenue-producing workers are referred to as “staff,” and they are justified owing to their ability to increase the efficiency of line workers, who are revenue-generating. Accordingly, staff-worker pay tended to be about 80-percent of line workers, and so it always was for “public servants” when compared with workers in the for-profit world. Then President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988 approving public-sector unions (something even Franklin Roosevelt had said could never be allowed for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons), and WHOA, NELLY!
Here three generations later, working for the government has become the surefire way to get wealthy. How? Government managers set staffing and pay levels with public-sector-union Reps with no taxpayers present. Those unions contribute heavily to the political candidates of one party all but exclusively. They have been over this time, the one segment beating inflation. Finance and Electronics have stayed even with inflation, while the rest of us have been losing ground for three generations—and this was the sad case prior to our present insane levels of Biden inflation. But public-sector salaries have doubled in ratio to private ones over this time!
And this also ignores government workers’ gold-plated defined-benefit pension plans after only thirty years. It also ignores all of the Chinese money that since Clinton reviewed the Chinese Troops in Tiananmen Square on the ninth anniversary of that massacre has been flooding our public sector with a large assist from Joe and Hunter Biden when it came to Hollywood and movie making. And it ignores that there is now so much corruption among elected officials that they rake in millions or even tens of millions over their careers… and they are not even tending to our best interests.
When it’s billionaires at the top who made their money productively, we’re all much better off as their share of the wealth is only ever a small fraction of the social wealth their enterprise created. Personal wealth created by corruption, quite oppositely, is more often a sign that our best interests are being at best ignored if not traded away.
So, the answer is that the wealth gap will always be there and, by itself, indicates nothing about opportunity. In fact, in a productive economy, opportunity grows for all even as the rich get richer! When it becomes such a large-scale corrupt economy, you are almost certainly being savagely robbed of opportunity… something to think about in the coming months leading up to the election. – Charles Tips
I listened to an interview today of historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson by Telegraph journalist Steve Edgington. It started off with this exchange:
Edgington: Victor Davis Hansen is the American Republic under threat?
VDH: It’s said to be under threat mostly by the Left but it’s a pretty resilient form of government. It’s the only one of its type. It’s the oldest democracy or constitutional republic in the (world), whether the Civil War, the Great Depression, the 60s cultural revolution. The problem we’re having right now is that it is not working for the Left, and so when it doesn’t work for the Left they say the Republic is in danger and they want to change the institutions. So they want to get rid of the 180-year filibuster or the 150 year nine Justice Supreme Court, the 233rd year of the Electoral College the 60 years of the 50 state union because they feel that the electorate is drifting away from them, and their agendas – which they’ve implemented the last year and a half especially – do not warrant on any poll 50 percent support. And their president is at a historic low at 29 (%) for first-term president so yeah that’s what we’re told. But when you actually look our elections being held, or that agreed on winners taking power, is legislation being passed, yes yes it is. I think the lockdown, the quarantines, set the Western World in general a little crazy, but I think we’re recovering from that.
Edgington: How how seriously should we take them when they say they’re going to pack the courts, or add DC as a 51st state and change the sort of as you say these historic kind of elements of the American Republican Constitution? Because they’ve been saying these things I guess for a while now, the last few years at least but they haven’t done them yet.
VDH: We should take them very seriously, because if you look at the Supreme Court which was their darling for the last half century because it was a legislative, executive and judicial grand all-in-one, and when an occasional Republican president wished to nominate Justices that would bring a little balance, they flipped. So Earl Warren flipped and all the way to David Suter and John Paul Stevens and Potter (Stewart) they all flipped, and now they don’t, and so all of a sudden they want to pack the court. And to pack the court they just need to eliminate the filibuster and get every Democrat on board. I don’t know if they will or not. And then they can flip it, and then they can vote to restore the filibuster which they said they would do because they’re going to be a minority party and they’ll need it in the fall.
I don’t want times to get any more “interesting” than they already are. But it appears it isn’t up to us.